Revitalise Seria wet market: Vendors

National 3 minutes, 12 seconds

BELAIT

THE last remaining vendors of the Seria wet market are calling for the government to come up with a plan to help revitalise the area.

The area, vendors claim, have fallen into a state of neglect after most of its vendors left due to decline in sales a long time ago.

The building, which they further say is now almost completely deserted, is riddled with problems ranging from deteriorating facilities — with some spots not getting electrical supplies, some booths being regularly clogged by water and some could not be locked due to tear and wear.

Some of those who still sell vegetables and fruits say that they may open early in the morning but will be closed by 10.30am, attributing their regular routine to the scarcity of customers showing up after.

There were less than 10 vendors seen selling their goods when The Brunei Times visited the place around 10am.

Despite the sales being not that great, these vendors said they decided to stay and run their businesses in the “ghost” market as they still hold that glimmer of hope for the situation to improve, looking at the government's efforts on promoting markets in the Brunei-Muara district.

Hj Tengah Hj Matamit, one of the surviving vendors who have been around since the market, selling merchandises and shirts was established recalled the “glory” days of the Seria wet market, claiming that it was packed with vendors and customers from all over the district.

More than ten years ago, he said people would flock to the area to buy their groceries and livestock.

Hjh Salmah Abdullah whose routine is to accompany her aging mother, one of the remaining vendors at the market added that in the past, some vendors had made their own initiative to build their own spaces, selling textile products.

“But their business were short-lived as they were asked to leave due to space constraints,” she said, showing the remains of the wooden booths painted in white built by the vendors.

What were lacking for vendors at the market, she said, are activities to attract the attention of customers, as she noted that one of the major problems for vendors in the building was the visibility of their businesses to the public.

She explained that the open space outside of the building are often used by Friday market vendors selling food and other products — which she saw to be profitable for the vendors — but defeats the purpose of having the building being built in the first place.

Hjh Salmah suggested for these open spaces to be regularly used, dedicating the area to food businesses, seeing that such effort may help revitalise vendors in the markets, who may sell products other than livestock and groceries. Looking at the situation, she also suggested for the now abandoned market’s fisheries section to be renovated into a space for entertainment purposes, adding that it will be beneficial for all parties as the combination of different kinds of business may attract customers to the market. Ibrahim, former fishmonger at the market supported the plan, as he also wished to see the market returning back to the days where it was packed with vendors and customers.

“It is sad seeing the building being in this current state; and I think it is high time for the authorities to come down and make efforts to treat, preserve and utilise this building,” he said.

“When it was first built, this building, if I am not mistaken, may have cost around millions of dollars, so it would be such a waste if it were to be left dead like this; so I hope the authorities would really come up with a plan to revive this market,” he added. The Kuala Belait (KB)/Seria Municipal board however, could not be contacted for their side of comments on the issue.

The Brunei Times